Will the sex life of insects ever stop interesting us?

I just read about the humble pond skater. More precisely, about how male pond skaters are forced to dance for sex.

Apparently, the females of one species have evolved a genital shield (now there’s a scary thought; sort of like a portcullis/guillotine (both of these French words, I note) clamping shut when she’s not happy) and only mate with the male if they like the song he taps out on the water surface.

Reminds me of Sting’s eight-hour sexathon claim, which he says included “four hours of begging then dinner and a movie”.

Yes, according to New Scientist it takes “an elaborate mating ritual lasting about 15 minutes” before the poor male will get a nod and a leg over. Which makes you wonder how much energy he’ll have left…

You can’t make these things up, and here’s the proof. The next time I see a male red-backed water strider, usually found in stationary pools beside mountain streams in Korea, Japan and China I’m reliably told, I will send a genuine wave of empathic feeling his way.

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